Newhall District considers resolution about immigrant students, parents

The Newhall School District Office. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Newhall School District Governing Board is expected to begin discussions about a possible resolution to reaffirm students’ rights regarding education and immigration status at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

“The resolution is a starting point,” Superintendent Paul Cordeiro said.  “The board will decide if it wants to adopt it in full or modify… if the board intends to adopt it then it will do so at the meeting March 21.”

Resolution 14, titled “Providing All Students Equal Access to Education, Regarding of Immigration Status” on the agenda item, is based on a California School Board Association (CSBA) draft resolution, which clarifies immigration records, enforcement activities and procedures on school grounds and the rights of students and parents.

“There is palpable student and parent fears about changes in federal enforcement actions against undocumented immigrants,” the agenda item reads.  “The fears should be taken seriously as they could lead to parents becoming reluctant to participate in school activities.”

District officials also stated in the agenda item that parents may stop sending their children to school if they fear enforcement actions on or near school campuses.

The purpose of the resolution is to ease these concerns, explain issues surrounding enforcement actions and encourage continued participation in school activities and programs.

“It’s keeping our parents involved in school and making sure they understand that we are not a part of any enforcement activities and don’t have a role in that,” Cordeiro said.

According to the resolution, immigration status is not an object of inquiry by districts and schools have a constitutional mandate to educate students within their district boundaries regardless of their immigration status.

State law also prohibits educational agencies from disclosing personally identifiable information to anyone without consent of a parent or guardian or without a court order or subpoena.

Federal policy states that immigration activities will not be conducted at “sensitive” locations including schools without special permission from federal law enforcement officials.

If immigration enforcement officials do appear on a school campus, they are required to report to the school office.  Office employees will then alert the superintendent who will respond in “the appropriate fashion.”

The proposed resolution also states that students will have equal access to educational and school services, regardless of immigration status or legal status.

If governing board members choose to go forward with the resolution, it is expected to be shared with parents and guardians and distributed to all school sites.

GATE Program

Newhall Governing Board members are also expected to approve a robotics program at Oak Hills Elementary and a field trip for Peachland Elementary for students involved in the school’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program.

At Oak Hills Elementary, 58 students will have a chance to participate in an eight-week, hour-long robotics program during the school’s instructional day.

Using LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 Robotics, students will learn to build robots each week, practice programming, use new software and test robotic functions.

The program will be a partnership between Bricks 4 Kids Santa Clarita and the elementary school.

At Peachland Elementary, 21 GATE students will participate in an all-day field trip to Join the Farm in Camarillo, Calif on April 14.

To coincide with this year’s GATE theme of “Locavore Living,” students will study and experience an organic, community supported agriculture program that fosters connections between the community, food and farmers.

The students will work at the farm, harvest produce, eat at a communal table, learn about ecosystems and watersheds, patriciate in storytelling and play games during their field trip with one classroom teacher and six parent chaperons.

Additional Agenda Items:

  • Approve Second Interim Budget for 2016-17 Fiscal Year as of Jan. 31, 2017
  • Conduct first reading of revised Board Policies: Federal Grant Funds, Bids, Ordering Goods and Services, Uniform Public Construction Cost Accounting Procedures, Lease-Leaseback Contracts, Design-Build Contracts, Procurement of Technological Equipment, Financial Reports and Accountability, Debt Issuance and Management, Equipment, Admission
  • Approve Change Orders for Peachland Elementary School New Classroom Buildings and Newhall Elementary School Auditorium Renovations
  • Discuss changes to board meeting dates from Nov. 7 to Nov. 14 and from Dec. 5 to Dec. 12
  • Approve Newhall District teachers and principals attendance of Kennedy Arts Integration Conference in Washington, D.C. from June 26 to 28 to learn methods and strategies to integrate arts into reading, writing, math, science and history
  • Approve Friendship Sponsorship of $265 for SCV Education Foundation Teacher Tribute Event
  • Approve Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) Block Grants for Peachland Elementary (awarded $6,000 for quality improvements and $2,000 for professional development) and McGrath Elementary (awarded $2,500 for gross motor skills equipment and $2,000 for professional development)
  • Approve authorization to apply and secure grant funding from South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for Electric School Bus Replacement Program

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